Your health is undoubtedly your most valuable asset. So with that in mind how do you protect your health?Yes you probably have health insurance to look after your health if you become ill and car insurance to take car of you should your health suffer as a result of a car accident. But isn’t that paying someone else to look after your health after things go wrong? A bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted? What are you doing, or, what should you be doing to look after your health right now?Do you get regular health check ups? Do you exercise & eat all the right foods that are beneficial to your health? Do you use health care products such as health supplements? Do you smoke, drink or take drugs? Are you aware of how these habits affect your health?I’m willing to bet that you make darn sure you look after your children’s health, making sure that they are not doing anything that is going to cause long term damage to their health? But who is watching your health? Who’s making sure you are not doing anything to damage your health?Health is probably something we all take for granted & only realise how important our health is when we are ill or someone close to us is suffering from ill health. However if we all do nothing in regard to our health now, waiting until we begin to suffer from ill health & then trying to do something about it may be too late as we may have already done irreparable damage to our health. If you could do something now to prevent one of your assets diminishing, such as your bank balance, your home or your car would you? Yes of course you would, so what about your most valuable asset, your health?Well it’s about time that someone took control of your health, and that someone is you! Take control of your health now and make sure that valuable asset, your health, is well and truly looked after. Here are some suggestions that might help you to look after your health:Get regular health check ups. If you have a good health insurance these are probably insisted upon. After all we all give our cars regular “health” checks, isn’t our health more important than the health of our vehicles?Make sure you eat a healthy diet. Even if you don’t need to loose weight the right diet can help to improve your health.Take regular exercise. 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week, even if it’s just a couple of 15 minute strolls, that’s not to great a chore to protect a valuable asset – your health.If you smoke, stop now! This is probably the best thing you can and ever will do for the sake of your health.Cut down on your alcohol intake. Stick to the recommended guidelines for sensible drinking – for your health’s sake.
I have been a health insurance broker for over a decade and every day I read more and more “horror” stories that are posted on the Internet regarding health insurance companies not paying claims, refusing to cover specific illnesses and physicians not getting reimbursed for medical services. Unfortunately, insurance companies are driven by profits, not people (albeit they need people to make profits). If the insurance company can find a legal reason not to pay a claim, chances are they will find it, and you the consumer will suffer. However, what most people fail to realize is that there are very few “loopholes” in an insurance policy that give the insurance company an unfair advantage over the consumer. In fact, insurance companies go to great lengths to detail the limitations of their coverage by giving the policy holders 10-days (a 10-day free look period) to review their policy. Unfortunately, most people put their insurance cards in their wallet and place their policy in a drawer or filing cabinet during their 10-day free look and it usually isn’t until they receive a “denial” letter from the insurance company that they take their policy out to really read through it.The majority of people, who buy their own health insurance, rely heavily on the insurance agent selling the policy to explain the plan’s coverage and benefits. This being the case, many individuals who purchase their own health insurance plan can tell you very little about their plan, other than, what they pay in premiums and how much they have to pay to satisfy their deductible.For many consumers, purchasing a health insurance policy on their own can be an enormous undertaking. Purchasing a health insurance policy is not like buying a car, in that, the buyer knows that the engine and transmission are standard, and that power windows are optional. A health insurance plan is much more ambiguous, and it is often very difficult for the consumer to determine what type of coverage is standard and what other benefits are optional. In my opinion, this is the primary reason that most policy holders don’t realize that they do not have coverage for a specific medical treatment until they receive a large bill from the hospital stating that “benefits were denied.”Sure, we all complain about insurance companies, but we do know that they serve a “necessary evil.” And, even though purchasing health insurance may be a frustrating, daunting and time consuming task, there are certain things that you can do as a consumer to ensure that you are purchasing the type of health insurance coverage you really need at a fair price.Dealing with small business owners and the self-employed market, I have come to the realization that it is extremely difficult for people to distinguish between the type of health insurance coverage that they “want” and the benefits they really “need.” Recently, I have read various comments on different Blogs advocating health plans that offer 100% coverage (no deductible and no-coinsurance) and, although I agree that those types of plans have a great “curb appeal,” I can tell you from personal experience that these plans are not for everyone. Do 100% health plans offer the policy holder greater peace of mind? Probably. But is a 100% health insurance plan something that most consumers really need? Probably not! In my professional opinion, when you purchase a health insurance plan, you must achieve a balance between four important variables; wants, needs, risk and price. Just like you would do if you were purchasing options for a new car, you have to weigh all these variables before you spend your money. If you are healthy, take no medications and rarely go to the doctor, do you really need a 100% plan with a $5 co-payment for prescription drugs if it costs you $300 dollars more a month?Is it worth $200 more a month to have a $250 deductible and a $20 brand name/$10 generic Rx co-pay versus an 80/20 plan with a $2,500 deductible that also offers a $20 brand name/$10generic co-pay after you pay a once a year $100 Rx deductible? Wouldn’t the 80/20 plan still offer you adequate coverage? Don’t you think it would be better to put that extra $200 ($2,400 per year) in your bank account, just in case you may have to pay your $2,500 deductible or buy a $12 Amoxicillin prescription? Isn’t it wiser to keep your hard-earned money rather than pay higher premiums to an insurance company?Yes, there are many ways you can keep more of the money that you would normally give to an insurance company in the form of higher monthly premiums. For example, the federal government encourages consumers to purchase H.S.A. (Health Savings Account) qualified H.D.H.P.’s (High Deductible Health Plans) so they have more control over how their health care dollars are spent. Consumers who purchase an HSA Qualified H.D.H.P. can put extra money aside each year in an interest bearing account so they can use that money to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Even procedures that are not normally covered by insurance companies, like Lasik eye surgery, orthodontics, and alternative medicines become 100% tax deductible. If there are no claims that year the money that was deposited into the tax deferred H.S.A can be rolled over to the next year earning an even higher rate of interest. If there are no significant claims for several years (as is often the case) the insured ends up building a sizeable account that enjoys similar tax benefits as a traditional I.R.A. Most H.S.A. administrators now offer thousands of no load mutual funds to transfer your H.S.A. funds into so you can potentially earn an even higher rate of interest.In my experience, I believe that individuals who purchase their health plan based on wants rather than needs feel the most defrauded or “ripped-off” by their insurance company and/or insurance agent. In fact, I hear almost identical comments from almost every business owner that I speak to. Comments, such as, “I have to run my business, I don’t have time to be sick! “I think I have gone to the doctor 2 times in the last 5 years” and “My insurance company keeps raising my rates and I don’t even use my insurance!” As a business owner myself, I can understand their frustration. So, is there a simple formula that everyone can follow to make health insurance buying easier? Yes! Become an INFORMED consumer.Every time I contact a prospective client or call one of my client referrals, I ask a handful of specific questions that directly relate to the policy that particular individual currently has in their filing cabinet or dresser drawer. You know the policy that they bought to protect them from having to file bankruptcy due to medical debt. That policy they purchased to cover that $500,000 life-saving organ transplant or those 40 chemotherapy treatments that they may have to undergo if they are diagnosed with cancer.So what do you think happens almost 100% of the time when I ask these individuals “BASIC” questions about their health insurance policy? They do not know the answers! The following is a list of 10 questions that I frequently ask a prospective health insurance client. Let’s see how many YOU can answer without looking at your policy.1. What Insurance Company are you insured with and what is the name of your health insurance plan? (e.g. Blue Cross Blue Shield-”Basic Blue”)2. What is your calendar year deductible and would you have to pay a separate deductible for each family member if everyone in your family became ill at the same time? (e.g. The majority of health plans have a per person yearly deductible, for example, $250, $500, $1,000, or $2,500. However, some plans will only require you to pay a 2 person maximum deductible each year, even if everyone in your family needed extensive medical care.)3. What is your coinsurance percentage and what dollar amount (stop loss) it is based on? (e.g. A good plan with 80/20 coverage means you pay 20% of some dollar amount. This dollar amount is also known as a stop loss and can vary based on the type of policy you purchase. Stop losses can be as little as $5,000 or $10,000 or as much as $20,000 or there are some policies on the market that have NO stop loss dollar amount.)4. What is your maximum out of pocket expense per year? (e.g. All deductibles plus all coinsurance percentages plus all applicable access fees or other fees)5. What is the Lifetime maximum benefit the insurance company will pay if you become seriously ill and does your plan have any “per illness” maximums or caps? (e.g. Some plans may have a $5 million lifetime maximum, but may have a maximum benefit cap of $100,000 per illness. This means that you would have to develop many separate and unrelated life-threatening illnesses costing $100,000 or less to qualify for $5 million of lifetime coverage.)6. Is your plan a schedule plan, in that it only pays a certain amount for a specific list of procedures? (e.g., Mega Life & Health & Midwest National Life, endorsed by the National Association of the Self-Employed, N.A.S.E. is known for endorsing schedule plans) 7. Does your plan have doctor co-pays and are you limited to a certain number of doctor co-pay visits per year? (e.g. Many plans have a limit of how many times you go to the doctor per year for a co-pay and, quite often the limit is 2-4 visits.)8. Does your plan offer prescription drug coverage and if it does, do you pay a co-pay for your prescriptions or do you have to meet a separate drug deductible before you receive any benefits and/or do you just have a discount prescription card only? (e.g. Some plans offer you prescription benefits right away, other plans require that you pay a separate drug deductible before you can receive prescription medication for a co-pay. Today, many plans offer no co-pay options and only provide you with a discount prescription card that gives you a 10-20% discount on all prescription medications).9. Does your plan have any reduction in benefits for organ transplants and if so, what is the maximum your plan will pay if you need an organ transplant? (e.g. Some plans only pay a $100,000 maximum benefit for organ transplants for a procedure that actually costs $350-$500K and this $100,000 maximum may also include reimbursement for expensive anti-rejection medications that must be taken after a transplant. If this is the case, you will often have to pay for all anti-rejection medications out of pocket).10. Do you have to pay a separate deductible or “access fee” for each hospital admission or for each emergency room visit? (e.g. Some plans, like the Assurant Health’s “CoreMed” plan have a separate $750 hospital admission fee that you pay for the first 3 days you are in the hospital. This fee is in addition to your plan deductible. Also, many plans have benefit “caps” or “access fees” for out-patient services, such as, physical therapy, speech therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc. Benefit “caps” could be as little as $500 for each out-patient treatment, leaving you a bill for the remaining balance. Access fees are additional fees that you pay per treatment. For example, for each outpatient chemotherapy treatment, you may be required to pay a $250 “access fee” per treatment. So for 40 chemotherapy treatments, you would have to pay 40 x $250 = $10,000. Again, these fees would be charged in addition to your plan deductible).Now that you’ve read through the list of questions that I ask a prospective health insurance client, ask yourself how many questions you were able to answer. If you couldn’t answer all ten questions don’t be discouraged. That doesn’t mean that you are not a smart consumer. It may just mean that you dealt with a “bad” insurance agent. So how could you tell if you dealt with a “bad” insurance agent? Because a “great” insurance agent would have taken the time to help you really understand your insurance benefits. A “great” agent spends time asking YOU questions so s/he can understand your insurance needs. A “great” agent recommends health plans based on all four variables; wants, needs, risk and price. A “great” agent gives you enough information to weigh all of your options so you can make an informed purchasing decision. And lastly, a “great” agent looks out for YOUR best interest and NOT the best interest of the insurance company.So how do you know if you have a “great” agent? Easy, if you were able to answer all 10 questions without looking at your health insurance policy, you have a “great” agent. If you were able to answer the majority of questions, you may have a “good” agent. However, if you were only able to answer a few questions, chances are you have a “bad” agent. Insurance agents are no different than any other professional. There are some insurance agents that really care about the clients they work with, and there are other agents that avoid answering questions and duck client phone calls when a message is left about unpaid claims or skyrocketing health insurance rates.Remember, your health insurance purchase is just as important as purchasing a house or a car, if not more important. So don’t be afraid to ask your insurance agent a lot of questions to make sure that you understand what your health plan does and does not cover. If you don’t feel comfortable with the type of coverage that your agent suggests or if you think the price is too high, ask your agent if s/he can select a comparable plan so you can make a side by side comparison before you purchase. And, most importantly, read all of the “fine print” in your health plan brochure and when you receive your policy, take the time to read through your policy during your 10-day free look period.If you can’t understand something, or aren’t quite sure what the asterisk (*) next to the benefit description really means in terms of your coverage, call your agent or contact the insurance company to ask for further clarification.Furthermore, take the time to perform your own due diligence. For example, if you research MEGA Life and Health or the Midwest National Life insurance company, endorsed by the National Association for the Self Employed (NASE), you will find that there have been 14 class action lawsuits brought against these companies since 1995. So ask yourself, “Is this a company that I would trust to pay my health insurance claims?Additionally, find out if your agent is a “captive” agent or an insurance “broker.” “Captive” agents can only offer ONE insurance company’s products.” Independent” agents or insurance “brokers” can offer you a variety of different insurance plans from many different insurance companies. A “captive” agent may recommend a health plan that doesn’t exactly meet your needs because that is the only plan s/he can sell. An “independent” agent or insurance “broker” can usually offer you a variety of different insurance products from many quality carriers and can often customize a plan to meet your specific insurance needs and budget.Over the years, I have developed strong, trusting relationships with my clients because of my insurance expertise and the level of personal service that I provide. This is one of the primary reasons that I do not recommend buying health insurance on the Internet. In my opinion, there are too many variables that Internet insurance buyers do not often take into consideration. I am a firm believer that a health insurance purchase requires the level of expertise and personal attention that only an insurance professional can provide. And, since it does not cost a penny more to purchase your health insurance through an agent or broker, my advice would be to use eBay and Amazon for your less important purchases and to use a knowledgeable, ethical and reputable independent agent or broker for one of the most important purchases you will ever make….your health insurance policy.Lastly, if you have any concerns about an insurance company, contact your state’s Department of Insurance BEFORE you buy your policy. Your state’s Department of Insurance can tell you if the insurance company is registered in your state and can also tell you if there have been any complaints against that company that have been filed by policy holders. If you suspect that your agent is trying to sell you a fraudulent insurance policy, (e.g. you have to become a member of a union to qualify for coverage) or isn’t being honest with you, your state’s Department of Insurance can also check to see if your agent is licensed and whether or not there has ever been any disciplinary action previously taken against that agent.In closing, I hope I have given you enough information so you can become an INFORMED insurance consumer. However, I remain convinced that the following words of wisdom still go along way: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!” and “If you only buy on price, you get what you pay for!”©2007 Small Business Insurance Services, Inc. http://www.smallbusinessinsuranceservices.com
Extensive shopping will help you lower your home insurance premium by a great deal. Take some time out to shop around extensively. There are many ways you can do that.a) Make a few phone calls to your friends, relatives and acquaintances and ask them about their insurance company. Their experience with them and how much they pay if it makes sense to ask them. You can ask them to refer you to their home insurance agent if they are pleased with his/her services. However, make sure you do not just call one friend and then go with their agent (however good they claim such agents are). Get referred to several home insurance agents. Then get quotes from each. Pick the best three have some talk with them all. Decide on who offers not just the lowest price, but the best price to value ratio in home insurance coverage. This will take you quite some time. Thankfully, there’s a better way to do this and more thoroughly too (Check the last tip).b) Check the Yellow Pages. If you’re the kind of person who prefers talking on the phone, you can look for home insurance agents in the Yellow Pages, call them up and request quotes from them. The few problems with this is that you’ll spend quite some time and might not be able to count on the reputation of the agent as you would if they were referred.c) Call your state insurance department or visit their website online. They usually have resources that will help you get the best value in home insurance. They also advise you on how to go about your home owners insurance. Being better informed will definitely put you in a better position to realize more savings.d) Check consumer guides. They will give you an idea of price ranges in home insurance. This is apart from the fact that they will give you a few tips that will help you get the best value at the lowest price. This is so because they tell you insurers and agents who have the best prices in home insurance. However, since their figures are usually estimates or for a given profile, you’ll do well to still get quotes from more than just one home insurance agent or insurer. Doing this will ensure you get the very best price as you’d be given quotes for your exact profile.e) It’s not also out of place to call any home insurance agent you know and ask for a quote. What I don’t advise is getting just one quote. Get from at least five different agents, compare their prices and the quality of service they offer and you’ll get the best price/value.f) Get direct home insurance quotes from insurance companies. Get from as many of them as you have access to. Compare their prices and value and you’ll be on your way to making the biggest savings possible for your profile.g) Visit sites run by insurance brokers. You can get better quotes on home insurance today by visiting not less than three quotes sites. Visiting not less than three quotes sites increase the chances that you would receive more quotes.And, you should understand that because the likelihood of receiving lower home insurance quotes is tied to the range of quotes you get, the more insurers you obtain quotes from, the better your chances. Obtaining your insurance quotes online will help you save far more if you invest around 15 minutes to obtain quotes from not less than three quotes sites.
The Affordable Care Act has put forth the concept of a “medical home”. The intention of this concept is that health costs could be reduced by having a central place where a multidisciplinary healthcare team would address the multifaceted health needs for you and your family.The purpose in a “medical home” is to address multifaceted issues that can become illness before they happen. While the intended focus of a “medical home” implies an effort toward primary care, that is, identifying risk factors before symptoms appear. The word “medical” still implies the presence of symptoms. Why would you go to a medical home, if you didn’t have a medical condition?In order to change the paradigm toward the intended focus on health promotion, wellness and disease prevention, a change in language is required. This author proposes the term “health hub” as a more appropriate alternative.The word “health”, changes the focus toward factors known to improve health instead of symptoms of a medical condition. The word “hub” brings to mind the image of a wheel with many spokes or facets contributing to health that could be addressed to improve health. At the center of the wheel (the hub) is the person or family whose health is the center of attention. Thus, “health hub” describes a place where the family or person as the center of focus is assessed holistically toward maintaining or improving health.Ideally, your health hub would be the place where you can learn skills to improve your health, obtain screenings and assessments that identify health issues early, get referrals for appropriate treatment as needed and have your care coordinated through one central location. The spokes of the wheel represent the various facets or aspects that might need coordination for optimum health. These might include medical care, dental care, social services, vocational or school concerns, nutrition, physical therapy, health information, psychological care, hospital or acute care, management of chronic conditions, public health concerns and more.The benefits of ongoing health assessment and coordinated care at a “health hub” include reduced health costs, reduced complications due to medical errors or fragmented care and overall improved health. This fulfills the intention of the medical home concept more effectively and efficiently because the language more accurately focuses attention of the multidisciplinary team on the “health” of the person and family who are at the “hub” of the system.Your health hub could be located in a community health center, wellness center, school, or family focused employee health program. What’s important is that the health coordinator at the “health hub” is educationally qualified and equipped with the tools to assess the contributing factors which are known to improve or restore health through the lifespan, has effective relationships with the providers you may need, and an effective system for following up and coordinating your care.Using the term “medical home” continues to imply that you have a medical concern requiring a medical professional, i.e., a physician or nurse practitioner to address. This does not change the paradigm our current health care system. Using the term “health hub” implies a proactive approach to maintaining, improving, and coordinating health care, which is the known antidote to rapidly rising healthcare costs and chronic conditions in America today.Continuing to focus on curing symptoms of medical conditions by using the term “medical home” does not support the primary intention of the Affordable Care Act. Changing the terminology to “health hub” more accurately supports a changing paradigm toward better health at an affordable price by encouraging early “health” assessment at the “hub” of coordinated care.
Home mortgage loans for people with poor credit are available at
reasonable rates if you find the right lender. With some time spent online
researching for low credit score lenders, you can base your financing
decision on loan estimate numbers. Even with bad credit, you can find
flexible terms, so you can find the right home loan for your budget.
The Role Of Low Credit Score Lenders
Low credit score lenders, also called subprime lenders, offer financing
to those with scores of less than 650 at slightly higher than
conventional loan rates. On average rates are 1% to 3% higher than “A” rated
loans, but expect to pay more if you have just discharged a bankruptcy or
Subprime loans aren’t restricted like conventional loans, so you have
many more options with your terms. You can secure 100% financing,
interest only loans, or a traditional fixed rate 30 year mortgage.
Unfortunately, there are companies that would take advantage of your
financing situation by charging high rates and fees. You can protect
yourself from these dishonest companies by comparing loan offers from
several different companies.
Getting A Good Loan Estimate
The best way to find a lender is to base your decision on their loan
estimates. Online lenders can get you mortgage quotes in just minutes,
without having to access your credit report. Not only will you get
information on rates, but also on closing costs and miscellaneous fees.
To get the most accurate numbers, request quotes on the loan amount and
down payment you ideally want. Just remember that if you decide on
different loan terms, you will need to ask for new loan quotes.
Timing Your Mortgage Financing
To give yourself enough time to find the best subprime lender, start
searching for financing before you look for a house. By lining up your
mortgage ahead of time, you’ll have a better idea of your borrowing
potential. You will also be able to close the deal sooner on your new home.
Most online lenders can process your loan application in a few days,
with funds available in two weeks. Your escrow company will handle the
final disbursement of funds.